Madhu Verma on SoCh in Action: Social Change by Children
Madhu Verma is the brains and spirit behind SoCh in Action, a Singapore based non-profit that organises a yearly event to showcase the best social change initiatives by children between the ages of 9 and 14. The event is just around the corner, with the ” Be the Change” Exposition to be held on Saturday, 12th November 2011, from 9:30 am to 1 pm at Level 4 of SCAPE, at 2 Orchard Link, Singapore.
We talk to Madhu to find out how it all started and about this year’s theme for the expo, “If Food Could Talk.”
EWTT: What made you leave a corporate career to work on social change?
MV: We all can make a difference in society no matter where we work. I always had the inclination to work for the social sector but didn’t know how I could use my knowledge and experience there. While finishing my Masters in marketing, I did my research in Strategic alliances between the two sectors. I discovered that social sector could use many marketing strategies that corporates use all the time to be effective and widen their scope. That’s when I started working for Oxfam in New Zealand and implementing my corporate sector experience.
EWTT: When and how did the idea of SoCh come about?
MV: It was a persistent thought for a long time. People in general are aware of issues in the society around them or in the world. I feel ‘doing good’ is a human ‘need’ like any other ‘need’ to entertain, to travel, to wear new clothes. But the reason we see fewer people satisfying this need is because the avenues provided are either not easily available or engaging or not popularised in the ways other good and services are done.
Soch, in Hindi means thought
A ‘thought’ can be a powerful tool to bring about positive change in the world. At SoCh in Action we provide avenues for such thoughts to translate into meaningful actions. ( SoCh in Action website)
SoCh is about providing interesting and engaging way to making positive social change and doing good. We have begun with children’s program because they are the most responsive audience. But we won’t stop there.
EWTT: Could you describe the first SoCh exposition last year?
MV: It was fabulous! Seeing the passion in the eyes of the children was pure bliss. We had 26 school projects by children 9-14 years of age from various schools. From helping the elderly, climate refugee petitions, anti-littering to providing fresh water for Haiti ; small or big, simple or complex, the problems and their solutions were chosen by children themselves.
There were 10 workshop/activities that gave children the opportunity to have an experiential and truly ‘hands-on’ experience. This was a fun way to sensitise children and grown ups to various social and environmental issues. Amongst the activities were walking without shoes, making non-toxic cleaning solutions, green science, using trash to make fun stuff, a live story telling session and so on. It attracted lots of children, parents and teachers and they all had a good time.
Video link here
EWTT: Why have you chosen food as a theme this year?
MV: Food shapes everyone’s lives in some way or the other. But we seldom stop to think about it beyond its procurement and stop to see how it affects our health. Children are rarely taught about how issues related to food affect us, our community, people growing the food and the environment.
Easy access to food in urban day living gives our children limited know-how about food, how it is provided by nature, where is one’s food coming from, what’s in it, what’s wholesome, what’s natural, how can the wasted food can be utilised, if food is scarce or abundant, various food related health issues and many more. There are so many environmental, social and cultural issues connected to food that we thought it would be good to make it our theme this year. Children will not only find these topics interesting but they will inspire them to think more deeply and meaningfully about what they put into their mouths.
EWTT: Tell us about the competition for this year’s theme.
MV: We wanted kids to think, “What if food could talk…what it would tell them about its journey?” So we have a small video that kids can watch where a chicken nugget is talking to our friend Leero. Kids can then imagine what their food tells them and send in their story, comments, or cartoons by 10th November 2011 to us at Contact[at]sochinaction.com . We will select 10 interesting entries at the event.
Video link here
There will be a lot of fun activities: a mini grocery store, for kids to play with worms, learn about food wastage, food additives and smart food.
EWTT: How many schools do you expect to take part this year?
MV: Last year we had 14 schools, this year we have 30 schools so far taking part. You will be able to see more than 50 children’s project on various topic such as saying ‘no’ to shark fin soup, dealing with PSLE pressure, glaucoma and myopia awareness, vandalism in school, bringing, cheer to the elderly and food trays for the visually impaired, dealing with teen depression and so on. These are some of the issues that children have chosen to address.
We have received support from various organisations, so there is a growing recognition of the programs in Singapore and we are grateful to all our partners for that.
EWTT: What are your plans for SoCH’s future?
MV: We will continue to do our annual programs, Design for Change School Challenge and Be the Change Exposition and make it reach more children. Other programs that we are mulling over may take a few months to launch, on the lines of bringing the corporate and social sector closer.
Short URL: http://www.ecowalkthetalk.com/blog/?p=8735
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